[Kean's] delightful, highly readable indictment of scientists behaving badly is a timely reminder that no field is immune from corruption ... Kean takes his readers on an engrossing — and sometimes horrifying — historical tour ... Written with the flair of a beach thriller and the thoughtfulness of philosophy, the pages explode with a wealth of information and juicy details, all held together with virtuoso storytelling.
The Icepick Surgeon is a hodgepodge of stories about malfeasance and evil, loosely grouped under a high concept ... If you can forgive Kean’s overly broad organizing principle, you’ll find a series of gripping stories about evil scientific deeds, corrupt rivalries and skulduggery ... Kean is a gifted raconteur.
... this book is more than a gathering of amusing vignettes. As each chapter compounds, it becomes more difficult to condemn and smirk without seeing the systemic ways that early sins have crept into the heart of science and medicine today ... Mr. Kean ends his book with a glimmer of hope but also an appendix on the future, with its potential for new scientific and medical crimes against humanity.
Expert at spinning historical science yarns, Kean presents a scientific rogues' gallery that's both entertaining and chilling ... In a way, though, the gruesome endpoints Kean describes are the least interesting part of his story ... What's more compelling is Kean's take on how the scientists justified their actions ... Kean's catalogue of scientific ne'er-do-wells does have some notable gaps ... Yet Kean makes up for his omissions, at least in part, with the complexity of the portraits he does include ... The book stops short of specific policy implications on this score; there's no analysis of how well scientific premortems might work to forestall future dastardly deeds.
The Icepick Surgeon is filled with fascinating, sometimes horrifying stories of scientists trying to solve human problems, often ignoring human concerns .. Sam Kean’s crisp, bright storytelling makes these tales of out-of-control scientists irresistible.
A witty, thought-provoking book ... Kean is a powerful, exciting storyteller who deftly considers ethical questions within an engaging narrative ... A lively, compelling addition to the true crime and popular science genres.
Kean is on surer footing with his later, brightly told anecdotes of a host of scientists and para-scientists who merrily crossed the ethical line in the quest for glory and sometimes wealth ... A mostly entertaining rogues’ gallery of scientists gone bad.